10 Novels That Will Disturb Even the Coldest of Hearts

[Editor's note: While your Flavorwire editors take a much-needed holiday break, we're revisiting some of our most popular features of the year. This post was originally published May 18, 2011.] Jezebel-writer Anna North’s debut novel, America Pacifica, is out today. The story centers around an impoverished teenage girl who is struggling to survive on an increasingly toxic island in the Pacific Ocean after a future Ice Age sets in and freezes the mainland. Though the writing can be a little clunky — especially with respect to class issues — North provides good lens into the many ways an aggrieved soul can turn against the world, and how difficult it is to get back our dignity once we’ve lost it. With this in mind, we decided to run a post on books that expose the darker side of humanity — a roundup of the most disturbing novels and short stories through time, if you will. … Read More

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Weird Writing Habits of Famous Authors

[Editor's note: While your Flavorwire editors take a much-needed holiday break, we'll spend the next two weekends revisiting some of our most popular features of the year. This post was originally published July 13, 2011.] It’s an old topic but it always manages to be interesting — what did the authors we love do in order to write what they did? Beyond the jobs they held, what habits did they have that made writing possible? We take a look at 10 modern authors who had unusual approaches to writing; some due to the limits they would impose on themselves, others due to what they would wear or how they would attempt to channel greatness. Regardless of their methods, they have all produced work of lasting value. We might learn a thing or two from them if we’re willing to get out of our comfort zone and see the craft as just that — a skill to be exercised, not a bolt of ideas that comes if you wait long enough. So read on, dear readers, and tell us in the comments section who we missed. … Read More

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Sloane Crosley’s Travel Advice for Non-Travelers

Sloane Crosley is the editor of this year’s edition of The Best American Travel Writing, which is out today, and features essays by William T. Vollman, Gary Shteyngart, and other notable authors. If you’re not familiar with Crosley’s writing, you should check out I Was Told There Would Be Cake and How Did You Get This Number — two books of personal essays that will make even the most hardened cynic chuckle.

To honor her new editing gig, Crosley wrote some key travel tips for those who are vain, budget-conscious, and notoriously lazy. So get ready to take a short tour of the area outside your neighborhood; you will need some walking shoes and the illusion that you are elsewhere. … Read More

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Patrice Evans Talks About ‘Negropedia’ and Gay Rappers

Patrice Evans is the author of Negropedia: The Assimilated Negro’s Crash Course on the Modern Black Experience, and has been blogging for the past six years as The Assimilated Negro, aka TAN. We talked to Evans about prep school, his background in music, the need for gay rappers, and how sometimes you might try picking up a white girl by calling her a racist. (It could work for you!) So read on, dear, readers, and let us know what you think of Evans or his hilarious and insightful book in the comments section below.  … Read More

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10 Books Deemed Too Dangerous to Read

We are nearing the end of Banned Books Week and realized that there have been so many titles in the past few years that have ruffled the feathers of elected officials, holy men, and her highness, Oprah. Some have been great, some have been horrible, and some just downright racist. We’re always curious about books that are deemed so dangerous that the public shouldn’t be able to read them. Although we would be taken aback if we saw a friend openly displaying Mein Kampf on her bookshelf, we think that with enough critical distance people can learn a lot from books that uncover the wicked underbelly of society. So read on, dear readers, and tell us what “dangerous books” you’ve read and enjoyed. … Read More

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Pulp Fiction: Max Allan Collins’ Favorite Detective Novels

Max Allan Collins’ latest mystery, The Consummata (with Mickey Spillane) will be released next Tuesday, so we decided to wrangle him into writing about his favorite lurid PI stories for us. He writes, “First, an admission – not every title on this list was published in a pulp magazine. Some, in fact, were first published in hardcover by respectable, even hoity-toity publishers like Knopf and Random House. But these writers, whether graduates of Black Mask or The Saturday Evening Post, fueled the pulp fiction that followed.”

“I could have filled this list with just books by Mickey Spillane, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and James M. Cain, and still have been frustrated by omissions,” he continues. “So I limited myself to one book per author. I regret leaving off several of my favorites, notably Chester Himes, Richard Stark and Jonathan Latimer.” So read on, dear readers, and let us know what books made you want to become a private eye or what covers caught your attention. … Read More

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Dan Clowes Talks About Nerdy Superheros, 9/11, and Spite Wars

Dan Clowes is a comic book artist, a screenwriter, and a damn fine man. He won the PEN Literary Prize for Graphic Literature this year, and is the author of Ghost World, Mister Wonderful, and the Eightball comics, among others. On October 11th, The Death-Ray will be released in a classy hardcover format, so get ready for that, because it’s an incredible meditation on the idea of justice in a world that cannot simply be divided into black and white. We called Mr. Clowes yesterday and had a discussion with him about Spiderman, the Iraq War, aging, and what is was like to grow up in Chicago in the ’70s. The results are below. So read on, dear readers, and tell us your thoughts and darkest secrets in the comments section. … Read More

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10 Novels That Take Place in a Single Day

We contacted Jesse Browner, the author of Everything Happens Today and The Uncertain Hour, about curating a list of his favorite books where the action transpires in less than 24 hours. Both of his previous novels take place in less than twelve hours, so he definitely knows the challenges of using a limited time frame to bracket a story. “The writer must pay meticulous attention to structure and to the way time appears to flow through an active consciousness, which must be carefully controlled if it is not to become obsessive,” Browner explains. “In researching Ulysses, for instance, Joyce went back to the weather reports for Bloomsday so that a cloud that floats over several scenes behaves in strict obedience to the real-time wind conditions prevailing over Dublin on that date.”

“While few who write or read one-day novels will require such verisimilitude, they all understand the preciousness of every passing minute,” he continues. “More importantly, though, they all recognize that it is very easy, and very common, for each and every one of us to live out an entire lifetime of emotion, reflection and experience in a single day – or less.” Click through to check out Browner’s picks, and feel free to add to his list in the comments. … Read More

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10 Fantastic Banned Books That Talk About Sex

Upwards of 11,000 books have been challenged in American libraries and schools since Banned Books Week was born in the last week of September back in 1982. We wanted to draw some attention to books that have been censored over the years, so we got in touch with Sarah Murphy, a school librarian and co-founder (with Maria Falgoust) of The Desk Set, a “social and philanthropic group for librarians and bibliophiles.” Sarah writes, “Those who attempt to ban books are probably afraid of whatever is inside. So, what are they most afraid of? Judging from the dangers cited this year, it’s sex.” She continues, “If you read about sex, you might get the idea to have some. Or think that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. You might start to believe that you’re not the only person in the world to like it, hate it, want it, or be confused by it. Let’s celebrate our freedom to read by checking out the books that got the would-be book banners’ totally chaste knickers in a knot. Here are ten suggested titles; some are new to the list, others have been challenged for decades. All have been accused of being too darn hot.” So read on, dear readers, and let us know what racy books you hid from your parents and teachers when you were young and precocious. … Read More

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F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Guide to the Good Life

Saturday will mark F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 115th birthday, and what better way to celebrate his work than with a whole boatload of quotes? The Jazz Age author died 71 years ago, but his words still resonate as we experience a similar shift from the Roaring Nineties to that of the disappointing aughts, where money is tight and an economic crisis is looming. So what can we do but celebrate what we have while we still have it? It’s the Fitzgeraldian approach to life, you know. So grab some friends, grab even more drinks, and paint the town red this weekend. And read some of the quotes below to find out why Fitzgerald still matters. … Read More

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